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Teaching strategies for using projected images to develop conceptual understanding: Exploring discussion practices in computer simulation and static image-based lessons

Norman T Price, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The availability and sophistication of visual display images, such as simulations, for use in science classrooms has increased exponentially however, it can be difficult for teachers to use these images to encourage and engage active student thinking. There is a need to describe flexible discussion strategies that use visual media to engage active thinking. This mixed methods study analyzes teacher behavior in lessons using visual media about the particulate model of matter that were taught by three experienced middle school teachers. Each teacher taught one half of their students with lessons using static overheads and taught the other half with lessons using a projected dynamic simulation. The quantitative analysis of pre-post data found significant gain differences between the two image mode conditions, suggesting that the students who were assigned to the simulation condition learned more than students who were assigned to the overhead condition. Open coding was used to identify a set of eight image-based teaching strategies that teachers were using with visual displays. Fixed codes for this set of image-based discussion strategies were then developed and used to analyze video and transcripts of whole class discussions from 12 lessons. The image-based discussion strategies were refined over time in a set of three in-depth 2x2 comparative case studies of two teachers teaching one lesson topic with two image display modes. The comparative case study data suggest that the simulation mode may have offered greater affordances than the overhead mode for planning and enacting discussions. The 12 discussions were also coded for overall teacher student interaction patterns, such as presentation, IRE, and IRF. When teachers moved during a lesson from using no image to using either image mode, some teachers were observed asking more questions when the image was displayed while others asked many fewer questions. The changes in teacher student interaction patterns suggest that teachers vary on whether they consider the displayed image as a "tool-for-telling" and a "tool-for-asking." The study attempts to provide new descriptions of strategies teachers use to orchestrate image-based discussions designed to promote student engagement and reasoning in lessons with conceptual goals.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Educational technology|Science education

Recommended Citation

Price, Norman T, "Teaching strategies for using projected images to develop conceptual understanding: Exploring discussion practices in computer simulation and static image-based lessons" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3589141.